Chocolate is derived from the roasted seed of Theobroma cacao, which contains certain properties that can be toxic to animals: caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, these two ingredients can also lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your dog. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your pets.
To give you an understanding of how little is needed to be potentially life threatening;
Severe toxicity levels for a 4.5kg dog:
Milk Chocolate 3 squares (85 grams)
Dark Chocolate (40%) 1.5 squares (34 grams)
Baking Chocolate ½ square (11.5 grams)
Signs of toxicity can include;
drinking a lot
increased heart rate
high blood pressure
potentially death from sudden cardiac arrest.
Often signs do not appear for some time which can lull people into a false sense of security that their pet is ok. ALWAYS contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate and keep any packaging as your vet will need to know information about the chocolate product.
Initial signs can simply look like excitement which is usually the heart rate increasing as a result of the toxicity. It always pays to get a check-up if you are unsure as we have a higher success rate and more treatment options available at treating toxicity in the early stages before the coco is completely absorbed by the gut. Once it has been fully absorbed into the system treatment options become limited.
Written by Wendy Jarnet RVN - originally published in Paw & More 2015. Republished with permission